Loving The Thing We Tell
We had an unexpected record attendance of 766 at our Evensong cum Organ-Bells Commissioning Service last Sunday. We are grateful for the huge support and interest in our Cathedral heritage and music.
In my sermon, I reminded all present that church music and arts were inspired by our worship of God and the proclamation of the Gospel. Quoting one of our previous Archbishop of Canterbury, Michael Ramsey, who said this to address the rise of liberal Catholicism in the Anglican Church:
“The full recovery of the doctrine of the Church is bound up with the return of the Gospel of God. Catholicism, created by the Gospel, finds its power in terms of the Gospel alone. Neither the massive polity of the Church, nor its devotional life, nor its traditions in order and worship can in themselves serve to define Catholicism; for all these things have their meaning in the Gospel, wherein the true definition of Catholicism is found.” 1
Indeed, the musical instruments, architectural and cultural heritage of the Church find their meaning in the Gospel. Even as we restore, refurbish and enhance our music heritage, we remind ourselves what they are purposed for. May we not lose the whole purpose of why we do what we do, as C.S. Lewis had warned:
"Every poet, musician and artist, but for grace, is drawn away from love of the thing he tells, to love of the telling, till down in deep hell, they cannot be interested in God at all but only in what they say about Him.” 2
This is a reminder for every artist: musicians, organists, flower arrangement teams, bell ringers and yes, even writers, pastors and preachers! May we not be drawn away from the "love of the thing we tell to a love of the telling."
St Paul will tell young Pastor Timothy in 2 Timothy 1:14 - "Guard, through the Holy Spirit who dwells in us, the treasure which has been entrusted to you.” We are stewards over the church’s treasures, both temporal and spiritual. Our role is about passing on the treasures of the Church faithfully.
Now that the pipes are fully restored and the bell project is almost complete, the restoration and repair works in the Nave will continue in earnest. I should pause to add that we have also “recovered” the beautiful and regal room at the Bell Tower. Those who are involved in the Bell-ringing ministry will get to enjoy that space.
Indeed, our Cathedral is a place that is dripping with history and amazing stories from the past. With the guidance of our PCC, Heritage Committee and Staff team, may we continue to unearth, preserve, remember and tell the story better to a new generation. The wider society is also interested in our past and heritage. We have a duty to serve the society well in this regard.
As Bp Chiu Ban It said in the Courier magazine released for the 150th year festival in 1969: "If we ignore the past, we cannot understand the present or forecast the future."
1 A.M. Ramsey, The Gospel and the Catholic Church, (London: Longmans, Green, 1956), p. 179.
2 C.S. Lewis, The Great Divorce.